Native conifers (evergreens) — Important for the Environment
Old timers will tell you that heavy rain in Langley would gradually find its way into streams with the stream not reaching its peak for 24 to 48 hours. With the clearing of native trees (mostly for agriculture) rain runs off the surface rapidly causing very high volumes in streams shortly after the rain hits the ground. These high volumes are not healthy for streams.
With water running off into streams rather than being slowed by native conifers much less gets into the ground to replenish the water table. So there is less water in the dry times to fill up the stream. Summer flows for local streams depend on small springs seeping from the water table out of the banks of the river into the stream. Old timers will also tell you that summer flows have been greatly reduced.
Native conifers are a major factor in reducing runoff and increasing infiltration of water into the ground. They soak up the rains and release them into the environment slowly over time maintaining flows through dry periods. While Douglas Fir are the true natives to the area the Fraser and Noble Fir grown on the McFee’s Tree’s property are close enough to the native species that they grow extremely well on the tree farm.
More on the Water Table and Trees
Developed areas have an even worse problem with infiltration as not only have the trees been taken away but the soil has been covered with hard surfaces such as pavement, sidewalks and roofs. In developed areas even though water is not being taken out of the ground by wells the water table still drops due to the rain running off and not getting into the ground.
In the Salmon River Uplands the situation is complicated by the large amounts of water being removed from the water table for drinking and irrigation via wells. Here the water table is dropping a foot a year and the river is in danger of running dry in the summer. Since Coho live in the river year round (the Salmon is a provincially important Coho stream) having the stream run dry in the summer would be catastrophic.
Task Force suggested for the Township of Langley Doug has suggested to the Township of Langley that a Task Force be established to look into “Getting Rainwater Into the Ground”. Native conifers can be a big part of improving that equation.